The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Signs of spring

hansjoakim's picture

Signs of spring

It is finally getting a bit warmer here, but nights and mornings are still bitterly cold. We have winds from north, and they chill you to the bone if you're not well packed in. The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days, with clear blue skies and some warmth coming from the sun. Still, things don't thaw up before lunch time, and summer is clearly still a few months away.

I live next to a farmer, and he has kept sheep the entire winter on a small patch of grass just next to our house. By the looks of it, they're enjoying the sun just as much as us two-legged ones are. I love the view these days, here a photograph from Saturday, taken while I was waiting for a loaf to finish baking...:

Just this morning, I noticed what I guess must be the first lamb of the season on the farm - a cute and fragile newborn that's been tumbling around next to his mother all day today. I feel this is truly a wonderful time of year - bursting with vibrant colours and scents, and there are signs of life, birth and re-birth everywhere. It all feels so much more intense these first few weeks after the long, dreadful winter.

Although I try to spend as much time out in the sun as I possibly can, the cold, frostbitten weekend mornings are still excellent for dough handling and bread baking. I've baked two multigrain rye loaves this weekend; the first, the boule below, was an improvised 50% sourdough rye, with some flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and rolled oats added to it. The hydration was a bit over 90%, so this loaf has kept fresh for several days, just improving in flavour.


The second loaf was one of my old favourites: Hamelman's flaxseed rye from the Modern Baking website. I baked this regularly before, and I can't believe it's been over a year since I last tasted a sample of this one (shame on me). High time to get everything together in the mixing bowl (clockwise from top: old bread + flaxseed soaker, rye sourdough, bread flour and whole rye flour)!

Usually I scale and bake these formulas as roughly 1.2 kg loaves (they keep so well, one might as well bake a large one while at it), but this time I settled for a smaller 800 gram batard. The dough comes together quickly, and is easy to work with.

I was very happy with the result; a bread with a deep, full-bodied rye flavour, and a crisp crust. The good thing about smaller loaves, is that you can bake them more often ;-)

 Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Edit: Below is a copy of the formula for the flax seed rye bread above. Hamelman's original recipe in Modern Baking can be found here.


Syd's picture

Great photos and excellent baking Hansjoakim. I particularly love the way the bannetton has created lines on the batards.  They are so even they almost look like they have been painted.  Very attractive.  Lovely open crumb, too.



lumos's picture

Beautiful loaves, as ever, Hans!  So glad to see you're back in action, too. :)

Thaichef's picture

Hello Hans:

  What a wonderful pictures both of your breads and the countryside. Yours post, Dmsnyder, Shao ping and Pips are the one which I greatly admired.  All of you produced such wonderful breads and excellent description.  Really enjoyed reading and salivating on your foods. ( The egg yolks on the platter are perfect too). What a wonderful photos.

  Thanks for sharing and happy Easter to you too.


dabrownman's picture

nice bread Hans.  How can folks not like rye when they see those breads of yours?

dmsnyder's picture

I'll think warm thoughts towards you this weekend. I'm going to Death Valley for a few days. Daytime temperatures should be in the 80's (F). The forcast for next week is for high's in the upper 90's (F)


PiPs's picture

Hi Hans,

Love the photos, love the baking and love the writeup. The first photo caught my attention in an instant - beautiful green!

The flaxseed and rye is a favourite in our house as well, though I don't bake it often enough and I have never baked it as a batard - it looks really nice. 

Great to hear some warmth is coming your way! Soak it up :)


LindyD's picture

A lovely pastoral view, Hans.

Looking at your wonderful scenery, I wonder what night sounds you'll hear this summer.

Your breads, as usual, are exquisite.  A most happy Easter to you and yours.


Floydm's picture



Janetcook's picture

Hi Hans,

So nice to see the land you live on and your neighbors - children included :-)  very cute indeed.  

I live in a suburb of Denver.  Not the same kind of wild life but this time of year the ducks give us a visit because we live close to water.  My daughter burst into the kitchen the other day all aglow because she has just spotted the pair of mallards that come to our property every year.  A tradition of sorts that started with them about 14 years ago so I am thinking that we are now being visited by grand children of the original pair or maybe even great grandchildren....I really have no idea how long ducks live....

anyway, thanks for the peek at Spring in your part of the world and for the loaves.

Any possibility of you being able to post the formula for the rye flax seed loaf?  I did check out the site but the only loaf that was connected to the KA name was one with a variety of seeds in it.



Edit:  Just checked in and THANKS for the formula and link :-)  A copy is now in my 'to bake' binder.

Isand66's picture

Beautiful looking photos and bread.

Thanks for sharing.

sweetbird's picture

I enjoyed this post so much, hansjoakim. Just a wonderful glimpse into Spring somewhere on the planet, and gorgeous baking, too! Thank you.


Mebake's picture

Great to see you back on track again, with flaxseeds, and Rye.. Lovely in every way. The scenery is exquisite too, for me at least.

Enjoy the warmth ,Hans!

hansjoakim's picture

Thanks again for all your kind replies, everyone!

dabrownman: You know, some people like their bread white with no (or soft) crust, others like their bread dark and wholesome, with a crust so crisp it can double for a murder weapon ;-)

David: Thanks! I think I would have to spend a week in an acclimatisation tank of some sort in order to get used to the heat before entering Death Valley... You bringing loaves, I hope?

Phil: Thanks a lot! Would love to see your version of the flaxseed rye someday :-)

Janet: Thanks! I'm sorry I forgot to link the formula. I spotted your reply this morning, and added a link to Hamelman's original version and my slightly modified take on his formula. Ducks are wonderful! I live next to water as well, and there is a sizeable population of mallards that spend the entire year here. There is a walking path going all the way around the lake here (it'll take you roughly 4 hours to go round the entire lake), so they're quite used to people. In addition mallards, there's also swans, geese and tufted ducks ( here. I believe the mallards can get up to 20 - 25 years old, so it could in principle be the same ducks you're seeing, Janet. About 10 days ago, we noticed the first oystercatchers ( and lapwings ( of the season as well - we call the oystercatchers for "tjeld" and the lapwing for "vipe" here in Norway, and they're a sure sign of spring arriving.

dmsnyder's picture

We are flying to Las Vegas where my younger son and daughter-in-law are both on the university faculty and will drive to Death Valley from there. I'm taking a half loaf each of San Francisco-style Sourdough and Desem. We should have fun playing with our granddaughters in the very big sand box.


hansjoakim's picture

Sounds very nice, David! I hope you all have a most enjoyable weekend together. Those are great loaves to pack for the valley.

PS: The subject title to your reply had me rolling on the floor laughing ;-)

PPS: Don't forget a cooler, so that the butter remains chilled in Death Valley.

Janetcook's picture


Thanks for the links.  Your tufted duck looks like the wood ducks we see here sometimes but they aren't as plentiful as the mallards.  

How nice to have so much open space in your back yard!  We have a small and narrow park across the street from our house which is were the water is found - it's an irrigation ditch of sorts that water flows through on it's way to other parts of the city.  But then we are surrounded by homes and roads - typical US suburban neighborhood but an older one so our trees etc. are nice and large.  We also have large lawns so our homes are not right on top of each other.....we are fortunate to get these ducks due to all the people but they must know we won't hurt them.

Thanks again for the links and for letting me know how long mallards can live.  This very well could be the same pair which is pretty amazing to me.  We have lived here 22 years and they showed up out of the blue in the spring of '98 and have been returning since then.

Take Care,


Virtus's picture

So good to read an update from you again! Thank you also for posting your recipe again! Your breads have always looked so good.

wassisname's picture

Two incredible breads, Hans!  Thanks so much for sharing.   I've been craving flaxseed bread lately, this flaxseed rye is definitely going on my short list of bakes to come.


hansjoakim's picture

Thanks Virtus and Marcus! Hope to hear from you if try the flaxseed rye, Marcus :)

Janetcook's picture

Morning Hans,

Just a quick note to let you know that the Flaxseed Rye formula you posted above finally made it to the top of my baking list a few days ago.

I followed your directions but I mixed the dough at night and let it retard in my refrig. overnight before baking.  I made 2 loaves and gave them both to friends who are rye lovers.  Both let me know that this recipe is a 'keeper'.  One commented on the sweetness of the loaf and wondered what I had used as a sweetener.  She was surprised when I told her there was none - just some 'old' bread tossed into the mix :-)

Thanks again for bringing this bread to my attention.

Take Care,